This dispatch showed that my previous one, giving the condition of the bridge at Gravelly Run, had not yet been received. I deemed it would show when it was that General Bartlett could join General Griffin before the bridge would be passable, and that Griffin could thus reach Sheridan as soon as anyone and require no change in my previous order, and while waiting the result of the reception of the knowledge of the state of the crossing by General Meade, I, at 10.50 p. m., received the following dispatch from him, written 10.15 p. m.:
Send Griffin promptly as ordered by the Boydton plank road, and move the balance of your command by the road Bartlett is on and strike the enemy in rear, who is between him and Dinwiddie Court-House. General Sheridan reports his position as north of Dinwiddie Court-House, near Dr. Smith's, the enemy holding the cross-roads at that point. Should the enemy turn on you your line of retreat will be by J. M. Brooks' and R. Boisseau's, on the boydton plank road (see 1-inch map). You must be very prompt in this movement, and get the forks of the road at J. M. Brooks' before the enemy, so as to open to R. Boisseau's. The enemy will probably retire toward Five Forks, that being the direction of their main attack this day. Don't encumber yourself with anything that will impede your progress or prevent your moving in any direction. Let me know when Griffin starts and when you start.
This dispatch also showed that mine concerning the crossing of Gravelly Run was still not received. That I did not overestimate the effect of this dispatch when it should reach, is proved by General Meade's dispatch, written 11.45 p. m. It also showed complete ignorance of the position of the enemy along the road Bartlett is (was) on, for the enemy already held this road on the south side of Gravelly Run, and if not themselves at J. M. Brook's, occupied our approach to it. The condition of affairs here is given by Major Cope in his report, as follows:
About 5 p. m. you directed me to lead General Bartlett's brigade, by direct road, if possible, toward the sound of firing in the direction of Dinwiddie Court-House, and attack the enemy in the rear. I immediately reported to General Bartlett, who had hi column put in motion. The left of the corps rested in open ground. We came out from the left and crossed this ground for half a mile, then we came to a small branch of Gravelly run, on the edge of the timber. Here we found a wood road that ran in the right direction. We followed it one mile through this wood road that ran in the right direction. We followed it one mile through this wood, over rolling ground, crossing three branches of Gravelly Run. At the south edge of this timber and in open ground on hill stands Doctor --- 's house, and here our skirmishers became engaged with the enemy's pickets. The ground slopes from here to Gravelly Run, and is open in front all the way down. The enemy, after considerable skirmishing, were driven down the slope and across the run, three-quarters of a mile from the house. The house is near a main road leading north from Dinwiddie Court-House to the White Oak road. General Bartlett established a line of pickets along Gravelly Ruin, crossing this road. He also kept vedettes out on his right watching this road and other approaches in the rear. It was mace after dark when he had made the proper disposition of his troops, and then we began to turn our attention to the number and extent of the enemy's camp-fires. They seemed to stretch for miles on the south side of the run, and we could much hear them chopping, moving wagons, and talking.
In addition to this the enemy held a point on the road Bartlett was on where it joins the White Oak road, as had been ascertained by Major Gentry, of my staff, while endeavoring to communicate with General Bartlett. The major lost his orderly by capture while he narrowly escaped himself.
It was now an hour and a half since my order had been sent withdrawing the divisions to the plank road, so that I supposed they were all moving back toward the plank road along the forest road, with its single bridge across the branch of Gravelly Run, and in the order of Ayres, Crawford, Griffin, with General Bartlett's brigade nearly rejoined to the latter. To prevent the confusion and delay that would occur by bringing General Griffin to the plank road and sending back General